- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Big Ten continued with a hardline attitude toward rule enforcement Monday, suspending Ohio State senior safety Kurt Coleman for one game because of a helmet-to-helmet hit delivered against Illinois on Saturday and drawing the ire of the Buckeyes' coach and athletics director.
Coleman drew a personal foul for his hit on Fighting Illini backup quarterback Eddie McGee late in the fourth quarter of a 30-0 Buckeyes victory in Columbus.
Coleman, who was not ejected, was pulled from the game.
The Big Ten applied the suspension in accordance with a new NCAA rule mandating conference review of any flagrant personal foul, specifically those regarding helmet-to-helmet contact. After reviewing tape and consulting with the NCAA's national coordinator of officials Dave Parry, the conference decided to suspend Coleman for this week's game at Indiana.
In a joint statement issued later Monday, Ohio State coach Jim Tressel and athletics director Gene Smith expressed disgust with the Big Ten's decision.
"Obviously, we will abide by the one-game suspension from the Big Ten conference, but we feel as if there was poor judgment throughout," their statement read. "We concur that Kurt's hit was late and a result of poor judgment; he was thus penalized and removed from the game by his coaches. We do not agree that it was 'pre-meditated' or that he was 'targeting a defenseless' player.
"The decision to suspend points to the conference office's feeling as if there was poor judgment by the game officials for their decision not to eject at the time. In our estimation, the final 'poor judgment' is in levying a one-game suspension in this particular case.
"We will abide by the decision, learn from it, and move forward."
Ohio State said it would have no further comment. The Big Ten said it had no reaction to the Tressel-Smith statement.
Coleman, a second-team All-Big Ten selection last year and a team captain, ranks second on the team with 29 tackles to go along with three forced fumbles and an interception.
Coleman is the third player the league has suspended in the last three weeks. Michigan linebacker Jonas Mouton received a one-game suspension for punching Notre Dame's Eric Olsen in a Sept. 12 game. Purdue Boilermakers offensive lineman Zach Reckman was suspended a game for a late hit on a Northern Illinois player after the Boilermakers' loss on Sept. 19.
Adam Rittenberg covers Big Ten football for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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